Jobu Jr. 3 Gimbal Head

Due to recurring back problems I am constantly looking at ways to reduce the weight of my photographic gear. However when using large telephoto lenses for total freedom of movement and solid support the best option has always been large gimbal heads and my choice has always been the Wimberley Version 2 Gimbal Head on a 3 series Gitzo carbon fibre tripod. This combination is still quite heavy if you have to carry it any distance and if this is the case, I will usually use my Acratech Long Lens Head on a 2 series Gitzo carbon fibre tripod which still gives me a pretty solid camera support but is not quite as user friendly.

For me at least Jobu Design with the Jobu Jr.3 Gimbal Head have solved that problem. Weighing less than half that of my Wimberley, 0.65 kilos compared to 1.4 kilos and approx. half the size it appears to tick all the boxes – but how does it perform in the field.

BWG-J3K-500-500x500

Having recently sold my Canon 500mm f4L IS with a view to purchasing the new 500mm f4L IS II at some future date, I have been using the Jobu Jr.3 with my Canon 1D Mk1V & 5D MkIII bodies plus 300mm f2.8L IS II and extenders on a Gitzo GT2542LS Systematic carbon fibre tripod. When used with this lens combination it is just as smooth and solid as my Wimberley and a pleasure to use. Birds in flight are easy with total freedom of movement, the swing arm and base rotation both being very smooth and when required the head will lock out to give you very steady solid support. As I presently do not have a 500mm lens I use my 300mm f2.8L IS II quite a lot with the x2 extender attached (600mm) and this combination works really well with it – so much so that I am seriously considering not replacing my 500mm lens anytime within the foreseeable future. If you visit the Jobu website you will see a list of lenses Jobu recommend for use with the Jobu Jr.3 and a list of technical information. Although Jobu only recommend you use a 500mm f4 with this head occasionally you will see that one well respected Canadian Photographer, Christoper Dodds, uses his Jobu Jr.3 with his 500mm f4 all the time. See his short review here.

I am really pleased with my Jobu Jr. 3 and when travelling where weight and size is a problem even for 500mm f4 users this head is a very useful addition to your camera gear. With the new Canon 500mm f4L IS II lens being much lighter than the old model the Jobu Jr.3 will I am sure enjoy increasing popularity. Another important point I have not mentioned is that it is almost half the price of a Wimberley and much cheaper than all of the better gimbal heads. Don’t let the price put you off this is a beautifully engineered quality product.

If you want to reduce weight and size still further the swing arm is easily removed and the head can be used as a sidekick.

The only negatives I can say about this head is that it is a little more difficult to achieve perfect balance with some lenses as the swing arm only has three positions, in my opinion this is a small price to pay for the reduced weight. Making the swing arm fully adjustable would have increased both the weight and cost and that I feel would have defeated the main objective of this head. That said if you tension the swing arm a little the perfect balance is easily achieved. Also if using a Pro camera body on some smaller lenses it can limit your vertical axis as the bottom of the body comes into contact with the base of the head. This can be overcome by moving the swing arm up to one of the other 2 positions which may in turn affect the point of balance.

To sum up I am very impressed with the Jr.3 and this together with my Acratech Long Lens Head will be the only 2 tripod heads I will be using.

In the UK Jobu heads are available from Jobu DesignUK

You can also check for the latest product updates and general Jobu news at www.facebook.com/JobuDesign

David

Canon EF100mm f2.8L macro IS USM

This is not intended to be an in depth review but the views of a working photographer on whether or not this lens delivers all it promises. If you would like to read a more detailed review go to www.dpreview.com Canon claim the new Hybrid Image Stabilizer provides 4 stops of correction during normal shooting distances reducing to 2 stops at lifesize (1/1) with the ability to correct for lens shift movement as well as angular movement.

I purchased the lens primarily for photographing butterfies and other small insects without the use of a tripod. My main macro lens is the Canon EF180mm f3.5L macro USM which I always use on Gitzo 2 series carbon fibre tripod and ball head. However on occassions you find your subject is in such an awkward location that shooting with the aid of a tripod is not possible. It was for situations like this and when I wanted to carry very little gear that I wanted the lens.

My first real test for my lens was not shooting small insects at the macro end but with a large woodland grouse called a Capercaillie in a pine forest in Scotland. These birds are normally quite wary of man but this was a rogue with no fear of man and quite prepared to attack you if you ventured too close, so I needed to be very mobile. With this in mind and the poor late afternoon light I decided to try out my new macro lens. During the short time I was with the bird I was able to take far more varied images (over 100) than would have been possible with a tripod. Shooting at iso 0800 to 1600 and shutter speeds of between 1/60 & 1/125 I was amazed to find that over 75% of my images were critically sharp. Of the remaining 25% many of these were clearly due to the birds movement. I feel my success rate was probably close to or on a par with what I would have achieved using a tripod but with far greater flexibility.

Capercaillie

Capercaillie male displaying – Canon 5D MkII + 100mm f2.8L macro IS USM iso 800 1/60 @ f5.0

Capercaillie

100% crop of above image

My next test was shooting at the macro end on a small butterfly (Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary) in poor light along a woodland ride. Using the 5D MkII I was shooting at iso 0800 to 1600 with shutter speeds of between 1/80 & 1/160. I know that some will be thinking that providing you have a shutter speed of 1/100 with a 100mm lens you should get sharp images. This rule does not apply when working with macro when you will need shutter speeds of 1/250 and above for consistant results especially at 1/1. Again I found that my success rate was close to what I would have expected had I been using a tripod and a remote shutter release but the added freedom of movement allowed me to capture images that would not have been possible when using a tripod.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary – Canon 5D MkII + EF100mm f2.8L macro IS USM iso 1600 1/125 @ f8

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary – Canon 5D MkII + EF100mm f2.8L macro IS USM iso 1250 1/160 @ f9

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

100% crop of above

The above images were taken in less than ideal light to demonstrate just how effective the image stabalizer in this lens is and when used in good light images like the one below are very easy to achieve without the aid of a tripod.

Marsh Fritillary 21a

Marsh Fritillary

In conclusion I would say the image stabalizer on this lens pretty much lives up to Canons claims and when you combine this with fast, quiet, accurate autofocus and super sharp optics you have a very impressive and versatile 100mm macro lens.

For some less approachable subjects the Canon 180mm f3.5L macro USM which takes extenders, you might consider to be a better option, but remember this combination in my opinion requires a tripod. However the 100mm macro when used with cameras with a crop sensor like the 1D Mk1V x1.3 or the 7D x1.6 both of which offer enough pixels, 16 & 18 million respectively, to allow you to crop heavily and still have a very usable file makes the 100mm macro a very lightweight and flexible option.

I am now quite happy to leave home with just my new 100mm macro and no tripod especially when I know that extra weight and limited manoeuvrability might cause me a problem.

If you are interested in purchasing the Canon EF100mm f2.8L macro IS USM lens take a look HERE at my Canon dealer of choice Park Cameras who have been my main suppliers of camera equipment for over 25 years.

David